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My Breastfeeding Must-Haves

ICYMI, I gave birth to my first child on July 29! In the land of all things newborn, some things have been easier than expected and some have been harder. Breastfeeding falls into the “harder” category, largely because it means feeding relies solely on the mother (for at least the beginning), it can be painful, and the scheduling aspect gets very time consuming. Since it’s World Breastfeeding Week, it’s as good a time as any to discuss my journey with feeding Stella so far.

Let’s back up: why did I choose breastfeeding in the first place?

Why I Chose To Breastfeed

A quick Google search will list so many benefits that you may think breastmilk is liquid gold and formula is poison. This is an extreme exaggeration, but among those who feel “breast is best” you may hear of a lot of benefits that aren’t actually valid. While pregnant, I read Cribsheet by Emily Oster. She’s an economist that evaluates available data and shares what studies are done well and have conclusive evidence (as well as why other studies and data sets aren’t as useful).

One section of Cribsheet breaks down breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. She shared that among the best data available, most breastfeeding claims are not true. There are a few additional benefits, namely lower GI issues and lower risk of infections/rashes for baby, and a pretty sizable reduction in breast cancer risk among moms, but these were among the few substantiated benefit claims. Breastfeeding does also burn calories, so if you are not eating those additional calories, it can help with weight loss.

I chose breastfeeding because it’s free, burns calories, and leads to less GI issues and infections for baby. Even though the number of benefits is small, I would take any leg up on health I could give my little girl. I also did not want to have to venture from my bedroom to the kitchen in the middle of the night every time she needs to be fed – I like the “convenience” of sitting up in bed and feeding her.

Is Breastfeeding More Convenient?

I believe that it is more convenient in some ways, though I haven’t tried formula feeding. It’s nice that I don’t need to make a bottle every time she wants to eat, which would mean heading to my kitchen when I’m home or packing lots of supplies while I’m out. I do feel that the “saved” time is easily taken up by her learning to latch (having some inefficient feedings) and by me setting up my “station”, since you’re pretty confined to wherever you’re seated when breastfeeding.

That said, I’ve found certain products at my “station” make breastfeeding a little more convenient. Scroll on to see what they are!

Stella + breastfeeding supplies

Breastfeeding Station Setup

Keeping these items close by has made breastfeeding a little easier.

  • Haakaa – this silicone breast pump catches milk from one side as you feed from the other. It has allowed me to catch and store milk for future bottle feedings without needing to pump, which is a godsend. If you know someone planning to breastfeed, this is truly one of the most valuable gifts you can get them! So simple and so effective.
  • Boppy – this pillow helps elevate baby to the right height and allows you to rest your arms as you feed. This is especially handy at night when I’m tired and feeding.
  • Yeti(s) – feeding makes me extremely thirsty. I keep this water bottle on me and love that the handle makes it easy to carry when I also have the baby in my hands. At night, I also keep a yeti tumblr with me at night so I have enough water to make it through.
  • Swaddle/burp cloth – feeding and burping can get a little messy. Milk gets everywhere, so I keep a swaddle handy to clean up any mess and use as a burp cloth.
  • Nipple ointment – the lactation consultant at the hospital recommended against the use of nipple ointments since they’re not regulated by the FDA, but my nipples could not handle it. I honestly don’t think I could’ve kept up with breastfeeding if the nipple pain continued as it had, but this ointment helped so much.
  • Kindle/remote – I keep my kindle and/or a remote nearby as something to do while feeding. It takes up a lot of hours every day, so entertainment is necessary.

In addition to this setup, there are a few other “hacks” I’ve implemented. I use a nursing bra (with nursing pads attached) and a button-up nursing nightgown for easier access. I’ve found this so convenient that I recently purchased a few non-nursing button up tanks and dresses to wear out and about!

At night, I also pack a cooler to bring to our room that includes a bottle, a bag, and the Haakaa. Each time I feed Stella, I catch some milk in the Haakaa, pour it into the bottle, then pack it in the cooler. The next time I feed, I empty the bottle into the bag and pour the next round of milk into the empty bottle. This is because you should not mix warm milk with refrigerated milk. It only takes an extra minute to each feeding and the amount of milk I pack away is worth it.

Overall, I still find breastfeeding to be a positive experience and as of now, the benefits still outweigh the inconveniences. That said, I am looking forward to the day where my husband can use that stored milk to feed her with a bottle and it can be more of a shared responsibility/experience.

How has breastfeeding worked for you? What are your must-have products?